New Englanders visiting Paris just don't want to go home, back to the drudgery, the job, mom, responsibility. Wealthy Mrs Newsome wants her son back. Chad has been playing in Paris for I don't know how long. He's probably involved with a French woman, God forbid! So she sends her fiancee Strether to go get him. Not completely trusting Strether, she sends her spy Waymarsh along with him.
Guess what. Strether likes it in Paris. He doesn't want to advise Chad to leave his French girlfriend. Waymarsh rats him out, and Strether is no longer a wealthy lady's fiancee.
So Mrs Newsome sends in the big guns - big Sarah Pocock and her pretty daughter Mamie, the bait. Wouldn't it be nice if Chad married Mamie and CAME HOME!
Will Sarah Pocock grab Chad by the ear and drag him home to marry her daughter? Will Sarah go wilding through Europe with Waymarsh? Will Strether marry Marie Gostrey, the woman who attached herself to him in Paris? Will Chad remain in Paris with his desperate but charming older woman, or will he return to New England to sell clocks? Will pretty Mamie Pocock fall for Chad or for Chad's friend Bilham? Is Bilham serious about Mamie or anyone else? Have you ever noticed the resemblance between classic literature and soap opera?
The biggest problem with this book, for me, is that all of the characters seem to have a vague, in-between-the-lines way of expressing themselves.